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Teamwork makes the dream work

by Tia

Probe Integrated Mining Technologies (IMT) Group is an innovative company with an array of products that significantly improve productivity and safety in the mining and construction sector. SA PROFILE spoke to Gert J Roselt, Probe IMT Group’s CEO, about the company’s work to improve traditional processes and equipment to make mining smarter and have mines run on cleaner energies.

From starting as an apprentice for Kuruman Auto as an auto electrician, you have successfully climbed the ladder to becoming Probe IMT Group’s CEO. What were some of the key challenges you overcame?

After the passing of my dad in 2010, I was catapulted into managing the family business. I suddenly had to develop sales strategies, manage employees, expand the business, and sustain revenue.

From the age of five, I had watched my dad work tirelessly from a small garage in Hotazel, and I knew then that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. One of my biggest challenges was not having had enough time to absorb the knowledge and wealth of information on management that my dad would have transferred to me.

Often, I would contemplate various scenarios and how my dad would have handled these scenarios, then I would analyse all aspects and estimate all the contingencies.

What have been the highlights of your journey?
We formed a 50/50 joint venture with Probe Corporation’s Kimberley Branch in 2012. In December 2015, I rolled up my shares into Probe IMT. IMT Kuruman Auto is now fully integrated in Probe Mining Holdings and is also a division of the Probe Group.

A personal highlight of my career journey so far has been building strong long-term relationships with key people, whether they be internal to the business, employed within the group or clients – some as mentors and others whom I’ve had the privilege of leading. It is also rewarding and always a career highlight to see and be part of the personal and professional growth of others over the years.

What are some of the key factors driving your success?
I have built a dynamic team and network that unites our staff in support of the same vision, mission, and values of the organisation. We all share the same clarity and positive mental attitude. We maintain distinction and excellence in all operational and business processes, and listen to our customers, in this way becoming their partner of choice. As a team, we foster the mantra, “teamwork makes the dream work.”

You were the CEO of IMT Kuruman Auto (Pty) Ltd for two years. What are the key differences between managing one company as opposed to being the CEO of a group of companies?
My workload expanded and I no longer work from nine to five, but rather work continuously and base all my decisions of daily living with the key stakeholders in mind. My calendar is filled with attending board and shareholder meetings, strategy sessions, extensive travelling, and engaging various other constituencies.

The intensity of external demands and challenges have certainly increased. One becomes more open to public scrutiny, but I love what I do, and it isn’t a burden on my time. Of course, where I had to ensure that 20 people retain their jobs, I must now ensure that 300+ retain their jobs. I had to learn new management tools and build new relationships, while reframing old ones.

Additionally, my influence shifted from direct to indirect means, articulating a clear and easily understood strategy to my business unit managers and institutionalising rigorous structures and processes to assist them achieve their goals remains a priority.

I do pride myself on the fact that I am accessible to all internal stakeholders, and I encourage an “open door” policy, as I firmly believe that transparent and open communication is the key to growing any business. I find it is important to guide and be guided by new ideas and suggestions from your team.

How do you see your technical knowledge impact your current strategy-driven position in terms of transformation?
We promote a conducive environment by creating sustainable partnerships and building strategic relationships between Probe IMT and all its stakeholders, in this way enabling access and transformation of value chains.

We support the growth of small businesses and suppliers with either mentoring, non-financial or financial assistance or both. We promote economic growth by developing SMEs and focus mostly on the entrepreneurs themselves. While we are not obligated to procure from the SMEs we develop, I firmly believe that as a leader, I want to inspire people to achieve their dreams and enrich their surroundings.

We nurture a culture of continuous learning. Amongst many other traits, we employ “inquisitive and engaged employees” who have an open mindset, think dynamically, and rely on an independent search for knowledge. We welcome shared learning that focuses on not only the mission but the goals of our organisation.

What is your strength as CEO in helping drive operations and ensure the growth and sustainability of Probe IMT?
It is not my strength per se, but the strength of the entire team that leads with me. One of our biggest strengths is that we see problems as challenges, and every challenge has a solution.

Bearing in mind that mines are always leveraging new technologies to enhance their productivity and safety, the Probe IMT brand is the most trusted and sought-after brand with the experience and expertise to truly future-proof operations. We are growing our market share in Southern Africa and continuing to expand through Africa, while securing a strong foothold across Europe and Canada.

As we multiply our solutions offering at our existing branches throughout Southern Africa, we do envisage significant expansion into new geographic regions for Probe IMT. We currently have offices in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Zambia. As we expand on the continent, we are determined to establish local offices and work with our local partners.

We have a Value-Added Partner (VAP) agreement with Wabtec, which has opened avenues for Probe IMT to go into Europe right up to Finland. With that said, I am personally passionate and optimistic about the future of mining in South Africa and globally.

What is critical for the mining industry going forward?
There is an obvious need to invest in the right skills and infrastructure, ensuring access to energy and focused on health and safety.

As resources become scarce or depleted, companies are forced to push new frontiers of exploration. Traditional mining is costly and to reach resources which remain, some mines are establishing off-grid locations and their lifecycle is decreasing, meaning it is no longer financially viable to build permanent power infrastructure to service the mine.

Mines must sustain their return on investment and evolve with the lifecycle, improving flexibility and efficiency.

We are working to improve traditional processes and equipment to make mining smarter and have mines run on cleaner energies. The right information translates into huge cost savings in a mine environment.

For example, a M3SH sensor within a mining environment picks up air quality, and decisions can be made to increase or reduce fan speed, thereby saving power and securing carbon tax rebates. Sensors monitor where people are and ensure the safety of the assets and that the lights are on only when needed.

These efficiencies are paramount at a time when environmental, social and governance (ESG) pressure on mines has never been greater. We are also focused on making world-class renewable energy and digital solutions accessible in Southern Africa, helping mining and industrial users to revolutionise their energy sources. This will enable Probe IMT to digitise the clients journey.

Over the years there has been a push towards driving more environmentally friendly mining practices. How does Probe IMT help enable this?
We are spearheading a shift to renewable and alternative energy with a suite of solutions and products that facilitate energy efficiency and carbon emission reduction. Our digital sensor-based solutions also enable environmental efficiencies, providing accurate real-time data that facilitates optimal operation of lighting and cooling systems, for example.

Essentially, we are making traditional equipment smarter with technology. These days it is possible to have sensors on every type of asset in a mine, including people. Real-time monitoring effectively sets environmental performance goals and emission reduction targets and creates environmental monitoring reports to track progress.

Another major benefit is the improvement of disaster response and preparedness. We use live data to improve mining, and share this with our clients to improve their compliance, productivity and safety.

As an evolved mining organisation, focused on social, environmental, and economic sustainability guidance, Probe IMT partnered with the Mandela Mining Precinct on The Real-Time Information Management Systems (RTIMS) research programme, to improve data sourcing, transmission, storage, dissemination, and procedures for mines.

How does Probe IMT’s positioning as a local all-round mining solutions provider enable effectiveness and efficiencies, and how does this impact budgetary costs for locally based mines?
We are local, we understand the market and mining environment – some of our operations are based on the mine, enabling 24/7 access to our skilled personnel.

We are a premium supplier of high-end products and deliver long term solutions that are sustainable, optimise uptime and reduce total cost of ownership for mines. Our mission is clear – limit downtime so mines can operate efficiently, without incurring losses.

What are some upcoming key projects that seek to unlock future opportunities for sustainable growth of Probe IMT and the mining, construction, agriculture, marine and industrial sectors?
Mining is energy-intensive, and energy is one of the major costs. Mining and indeed all these sectors have a great opportunity to drive value, improve productivity and mitigate risks through a shift to renewable energy and effective energy management.

At Probe IMT, renewable and alternative energy solutions, provided through Probe Group companies, present solid opportunities for our clients. These scalable solutions include new technology supercapacitors, containerised solutions, electrical vehicle conversions and more. As well as importing industry leading products solutions, we are innovating with locally engineered solutions.

As early adopters of technology, we continue to drive and enable digital transformation efforts in the industry, ensuring our clients have the tools and data to tackle future challenges. Advanced sensor-based solutions have become an essential part of solving energy, resource and environmental challenges, while enhancing productivity and safety.

Probe IMT remains ahead of the curve in best-of-breed collision awareness technology with the launch of Wabtec Generation 3 solutions. South African companies must be legally compliant and can make the leap to Level 9 – driving zero-harm and maximum productivity while complying with the new collision avoidance regulations.

We are closely operationally involved with our clients at every level and bring in solutions that ensure work is safer and more productive, from sensor-based monitoring solutions to tailored harnesses to market-leading industrial lights from Vision X.

What is your take on the feasibility of the electric vehicle space in South Africa; what is the role Probe IMT is taking to help drive the EV market locally?
I read a study recently that stipulated the mitigation impact of EVs in South Africa will start to increase from 2040 because of decarbonised power system and growth of electrified vehicles. While power supply constraints in South Africa are not conducive to rapid adoption of EVs, as charging would burden the energy system, our business is all about solving challenges. We are excited about future growth prospects in various areas including diesel to electric conversion and electric forklifts. The need for advanced batteries and energy storage is surging globally, which also drives the need for mined metals and minerals used in the manufacturing of these products. There is extensive investment underway which provides a growth opportunity fully aligned with our growth strategy.

You describe yourself as an entrepreneur, businessman, investor, and philanthropist. What top five tips would you give to aspiring leaders to help grow from a career perspective?

  1. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake but take accountability and ownership as this shows humility – “do what is right, not what is easy”.
  2. Be proactive, always seek to learn. A CEO can never know it all.
  3. Leadership is an action, set others up to succeed.
  4. It is important to inspire, but equally important to be inspired.
  5. A successful life includes being of service to others. Life offers us the privilege and opportunity to give back to those less fortunate than ourselves. If you can bring joy to just one person, imagine what you have achieved.

Probe IMT Group of Companies
Being the most trusted, respected, and sought-after premium brand in the industry, Probe IMT is a leading integrated solutions provider from a productivity and safety perspective for the mining, construction, marine and industrial sectors in Southern Africa. Probe IMT specialises in automotive solutions, integrated mining technology solutions, industrial technology solutions, renewable energy solutions, sustainability, and excellence through integration.

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